thank you all for your encouragement.
i cheated - i started my strip project well before i had received the strips - i packed a few fabric squares, some batting squares, thread & needles and a bunch of the leftover strips from the ones i made to send in when i headed off to canada for vacation and then a business trip to new orleans - it's amazing how much you can get done on a 9 hour flight, while waiting around in airports, while waiting for colleagues in hotel lounges, wherever... i now always have a baggie with a few prepared STRIPPERs strips, a prepared square and a bunch of threaded needles in my purse - this is my "on-the-go" quilt
doesn't take any space, sewing machine, whatnot - just a little prep (i mark a 1/4 inch line on each strip as i can't sew a straight line for all the stracciatella icecream in the universe) and then a few minutes here or there. i aim to have all the squares done by september 1st, and sewn together by the end of the year...
of course the HST's will need some time as well - but they will mainly want sewing machine time - and that i won't have till ... a couple of weekends in september and then again weekends from late november onwards. now the big question: will my family get christmas presents or will i finish the SOTTs quilt ?